by: Kevin McCarty Updated:Vaugh, Wash. —
Two men adrift in the frigid water of Case Inlet and stranded far from shore for nearly an hour were rescued when their cries for help were heard by a fast-thinking hero who happened to have a boat. The two had been kayaking in the inlet near Vaughn bay when their boat flipped over and flooded.
Bruce Phair was getting ready to leave his beach place near Olman Point in Vaughn on the Key Peninsula when he heard shouting coming from far out on the water. "I heard them yelling help out there," said Phair. Phair had just put his small aluminum boat away so he grabbed it out of the boat house and headed down the beach. "Tide has got to be the lowest of the year, so I had to drag my boat and motor out there," said Phair.
As Phair searched for the men far out in the inlet, his sister Lucine Lane called 911. A fire department dive team, Pierce County Sheriff's department divers and a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter were dispatched to the scene. Firefighters said the tide was so low they couldn't find a place to put their Seadoos into the water to help search for the men. By that time, Phair had finally tracked down the two by following their shouts for help.
"I found one of them and came back in and he said his brother was still out there, so I went out and got him," said Phair. Both men were wearing personal flotation devices which firefighters said probably helped save their lives long enough to be rescued. Both were treated for hypothermia. One firefighter said their body temperatures were dangerously low and that they would not have lasted much longer.
Phair said he was glad he was able to make it to the men in time to save their lives. "Yeah, that was kind of a rush," Phair said. "Never got the boat in the water that fast."